Race #324 – Tobacco Road Half Marathon – Cary, NC – 03/13/16

2016-tobacco-road-LOGOI’m cutting back on traveling for races this year, but this is a race I really enjoyed two years ago so I decided to go back along with some of my running friends from the Gaston County Runners. It’s a big race but not so big you’re completely lost, with 2262 finishers in the half and 974 in the full marathon this year.


The weather was unusually warm and humid (63 degrees and 94% humidity) at the start. That’s too hot and humid for most runners but I love it so no complaints from me on that. I like mostly everything about this race except for a couple of exceptions. Parking is a problem unless you pay $10 to park at the race site, which has a limited number of parking spaces. The first time I ran the race I parked at a site several miles away and took the bus to the race site, then had to take the bus back after the race. The buses were fine and everything went smoothly, but I paid the extra 10 bucks this year just for the convenience of having my car nearby.


The only other quibble I had was that the age group awards weren’t handed out at the awards ceremony. They only announced the overall winners, and told the age group winners to pick up their awards at a table on the side of the tent. It would have been nice to have all of the awards announced and let the age group winners by recognized, which is the way things are usually done. That wouldn’t have cost a cent extra, and while the vast majority of runners couldn’t care less, the age groupers take it a little personally.


Speaking of age groups, I managed to eek out a 2nd place finish in the 60-64 age group with a time of 1:44:30. These days I’m pretty happy just to finish under 1:50 so managing to get under 1:45 was even better, although I have to admit it’s harder for me now to run 1:45 than it was just two or three years ago to run 5 or 10 minutes faster. This was my 88th half marathon and I’m considering quitting half marathons altogether but would like to get to a total of 100, so I guess I’ll at least try to hit that goal over the next year or two, then back off to just running shorter races.

With friends before the start of the race.

Race Number:  324


Race Name:  Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon


Location:  Cary, North Carolina (Raleigh area)


Date: March 13, 2016


Race Rating:  99



Course: Flatter than most although a few long gradual hills. It’s an out-and-back course with the first (and last) 2.5 miles on paved streets leading to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT), with the remainder of the race on the unpaved but smooth trail. The full marathon follows more of the ATT.


Weather at Start:  63 degrees, 94% humidity, partly cloudy.


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My Stats:

  • Time:  1:44:30
  • Pace:  7:58
  • Age Group:  2 of  24
  • Overall:  194 of  2262
  • Average Heart Rate: 166
  • Maximum Heart Race: 177
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:22:16 (70.97%)



3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
3 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
8 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
x – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
x – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

8 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
1 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
3 – Design: (1-5)
3 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
1 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

0 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no (*for $10)
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no (*for $10)
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no (*remote parking)
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no  (*remote parking)

2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  99

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